The Lion in my House

Month: June 2017

Fathers

(Meditation Scriptures: Psalm 78, Joshua 24, Matt 10:34-36, Romans 8:14) It doesn’t escape me that your dad probably wasn’t what you wanted. Maybe he wasn’t always there for you. Maybe…

(Meditation Scriptures: Psalm 78, Joshua 24, Matt 10:34-36, Romans 8:14)

It doesn’t escape me that your dad probably wasn’t what you wanted. Maybe he wasn’t always there for you. Maybe he was dangerous. Maybe he is just missing.

Dads leave strange scars on their children. We can make odd memories when we’re not trying to make good ones.

My dad gets a special pass in my heart. He’s not perfect. I guess none of us is. But, I am a lot like him in some good and in some bad ways, and I suppose the same passes I give myself also apply to the old man.

My dad had his own world when I was a boy; his own place where he was master and commander. His store was nestled in a fascinating art deco castle, in the middle of the bustling city center. Veined white marble and cherry wood opened up heavenward to a sky view. I can still recall that strange, nameless scent with hints of polish, leather, and fountain spray.

Inside the store was my dad’s kingdom. It was his decoration and his craftsmanship. It was his initiative and hard work on display. He must have learned so much about record-keeping and management and sales. I never really had an appreciation for my dad’s work until much later, when the store was no longer there and he’d gone to work for someone else. Like all things, I did not miss it until it was long gone.

When I think back on those days as a boy when I would romp and play in those long, storied hallways of the big marble castle and smuggle quarters from the cash drawer and beg him to “melt something” under his torch, it makes me miss my daddy.

He is still with us. In fact, I spent Sunday afternoon with him and my mom and my grandpa. But when I think back on those old days at his store, I think of the younger man with his black beard and his grey suit and his patterned neckties. I think of the giant, who created beauty with his black hands, and who ruled his own world.

I miss my daddy. That’s what has happened as I’ve gotten a bit older and had children of my own. That is the way of things.

“He established a testimony in Jacob
and set up a law in Israel,
which He commanded our fathers
to teach to their children
so that a future generation —
children yet to be born — might know.
They were to rise and tell their children
so that they might put their confidence in God
and not forget God’s works,
but keep His commands.”

My father is not arrogant. He is not aggressive. He is kind and gentle. He is patient. He can be petulent when he is angry, but it never seems to last too long. He is sad and contemplative, but he smiles for me. He is tired, because he works hard hours. When he sings, he shows what’s on the inside. He knows about scripture and he teaches what he studies. He laid a foundation of faith in me that has been reset over time; a few blocks changed and new lines drawn and extended. But the root remains.

“Then they would not be like their fathers,
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation whose heart was not loyal
and whose spirit was not faithful to God.”

Stubborn. Rebellious. What is old is new again.

My daddy did not stamp out my rebellion. I suppose he could have. The fight would have been costly for both of us.

Instead, he watched me, patiently. And rather than make an enemy by inflating my pride, he fueled a spirit that would, ultimately, find its way home to a loving Father.

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Blood

I wish I could take some credit for it, but I can’t. I wish I could say that it was somehow my doing, but the little I did do was…

I wish I could take some credit for it, but I can’t. I wish I could say that it was somehow my doing, but the little I did do was afforded to me by someone else. Even that was — and is — an act of faith, given to me in some portion each day as I apparently need it.

What tender mercy he brings to a household in a womb; the throbbing heartbeat of a God whose justice runs red against the door. His sacrifice; my salvation.

But, there is death. The destroyer of body and soul moves like a sweeping scythe. And some, for reasons I don’t understand, are not saved. Some. Too many. Bitter herbs choked by weeds or never-rooted and trampled by the killing angels. Old wounds.

A different doorpost is covered now in a different blood. A different sacrifice. A different salvation. A different killing spirit that kills even as He resurrects. Death, once feared, is now no threat; a chasing Pharoah and his army, drowned in a curtain of baptism. The watery circumcism that draws His blood has splashed away the old conqueror. Blood and bread to commune with the Almighty.

Bodies are piling up. The stench is bitter and sad. A blood transfusion is needed to stop the spread of the disease, but their skin is thick like crocodile scales. Time tick tocks and tick tocks and crocodiles run from time.

My feet are tired, but not tired enough. The old sores have gotten soft. I commune like a heathen; no sandals on my feet and no staff in my hand. My green pastures are too close to home; too well-worn and too soft; too familiar.

Do you pass by, God of Abraham? Do you seek out new lands and new little boys who live inside old men to follow you to them? Are there many left who seek you in your golden wake? Son-burned faces and high adventure?

What marks do we bear? Are we foreigners in your land? Do we carry the mark of Cain to the lands of Wandering? Are we lost?

Color us with your blood. Color us with faith.

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I am not.

Maybe the biggest lesson of my adult life has been a lesson about my own identity. I got tired of pretending; lying and ducking and puffing and faking. To be…

Maybe the biggest lesson of my adult life has been a lesson about my own identity.

I got tired of pretending; lying and ducking and puffing and faking. To be sure, I still do those things. I’m just tired of them now.

But, when the great God of Heaven’s Armies declares, “I AM,” all I have left to offer him is that, “I am not.”

I am not the husband I should be. I am not the father I should be. I am not the brother or son that I should be. I am not the friend or neighbor I should be. I am not the employee or the coworker that I should be.

I am not.

It is a discouraging thought. But, looking back over the many seasons of life where I’ve failed and, frankly, looking around me now, realizing that I’ve left a wake of damage and knowing a good deal of what is ‘right’ to be done, I see my flaws. I know where I’m going to fail.

If you’ve been to a good church enough times, you know what comes next: this is the purpose of God’s amazing grace. We are not enough, but He is.

That is true. That is beautiful.

Yet, I regret it. I know it is something that I cannot be, but it hurts to know that it is something I haven’t been. Damage has been done.

I am not enough. I have proven time and time again that I cannot be the change I want to see in the world. I make the same excuses for myself that everyone else does. “You tried; that counts for something!” “At least you aren’t as bad as him.” “You’ll do better next time.”

But isn’t that here the Gospel starts to make sense?

Isn’t that when the truth begins to set us free? Not from remorse; not from sadness (..not yet).

The bad news always comes before the good news. I haven’t been enough. I am not.

He is.

Now, may the Spirit of the living God that casts new light on old sins take root in you and in me. Let him work his good work. Let him paint you with new, living colors.

Let him roar. Let us tremble.

Let me bury my face in his mane and wrap my body in his paws and lay my head on his soft belly as it rises and falls with his heavy breaths. I can feel his claws behind the rough pads of his big feet, and I know I deserve them. But, he doesn’t seem to have my blood in mind. I feel safe with him, even though he is no tame lion. He smells like grass and dirt and rose petals and his long, slow blinks tell me about love.

I am not. He is.

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